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Netflix vs. Hulu: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 21, 2023
Netflix is a global streaming service offering a vast library of films and shows, while Hulu, primarily available in the U.S., offers current TV episodes alongside its own content library.

Key Differences

Netflix, founded in 1997, began as a DVD-by-mail service before transitioning to a streaming platform. Its primary draw is its extensive catalog of movies, documentaries, and original series spanning various genres and languages. On the other hand, Hulu, established in 2007, originally served as a joint venture between several major TV networks. Hulu distinguishes itself by offering episodes of current TV shows shortly after they air.
Netflix's subscription model has always been ad-free, focusing on providing uninterrupted viewing experiences. This strategy allowed them to gain substantial popularity and expand to international markets. Hulu, in contrast, introduced both ad-supported and ad-free subscription models. This means that depending on the subscription type, viewers might encounter commercials during their streaming.
Netflix's significant emphasis has been on producing and acquiring a vast range of original content, from films to series, which has garnered critical acclaim and drawn international audiences. Hulu, while also investing in original content like "The Handmaid's Tale," traditionally capitalized on its strength in offering current-season TV episodes, making it a go-to choice for keeping up with recent shows.
Both platforms offer various plans with different streaming qualities and number of screens. Netflix, with its global presence, caters to a broader international audience and tailors content to various regions. Hulu, while primarily U.S.-centric, has expanded its content repertoire with additions like Hulu + Live TV, providing a blend of on-demand streaming and live TV broadcasts.
It's essential to recognize that while both platforms operate in the streaming space, their foundational strategies and content offerings have distinct flavors. While Netflix aims for broad, global appeal with diverse originals, Hulu retains strong ties to traditional TV broadcasting, reflected in its content choices and release patterns.

Comparison Chart


Started as a DVD-by-mail service.
Joint venture between major TV networks.

Content Emphasis

Broad range of movies, series, and originals.
Current TV episodes and some originals.

Subscription Model

Ad-free subscriptions.
Both ad-supported and ad-free models.

Geographic Availability

Global availability with region-specific content.
Primarily U.S. with limited international presence.

Relationship to Traditional TV

Independent from traditional TV.
Closer ties, offering episodes soon after they air.

Netflix and Hulu Definitions


Known for its wide array of original series and films.
Netflix's original movies are often contenders at the Oscars.


Provides both ad-supported and ad-free viewing experiences.
I upgraded my Hulu subscription to avoid commercials.


An ad-free streaming subscription service.
One reason I prefer Netflix is that there are no commercials.


Known for its original content like "The Handmaid's Tale."
Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale received critical acclaim.


Provides content tailored to various global regions.
In Europe, Netflix offers some shows that aren't available in the U.S.


Offers a combination of on-demand content and live TV.
With Hulu + Live TV, I can watch sports events in real-time.


A streaming platform offering diverse content globally.
I binge-watched a series on Netflix last weekend.


A streaming service offering current TV episodes and movies.
I watched the latest episode of my favorite show on Hulu.


Originally a DVD rental-by-mail service.
I remember when Netflix used to send DVDs in the mail.


Primarily available in the United States.
When I traveled abroad, I couldn't access my Hulu account.


Are both Netflix and Hulu streaming services?

Yes, both offer streaming of movies and TV series.

Which one is more globally recognized, Netflix or Hulu?

Netflix, due to its global availability and diverse original content.

Do I have to watch ads on Hulu?

Hulu has both ad-supported and ad-free subscriptions.

How did Netflix originally deliver content?

Netflix began as a DVD-by-mail service.

Can I download content for offline viewing on both platforms?

Both platforms offer options for downloading select content.

Does Netflix produce its own shows and movies?

Yes, Netflix is known for its broad range of original content.

Which one is older, Netflix or Hulu?

Netflix was founded in 1997, while Hulu was established in 2007.

Can I watch live TV on Hulu?

Yes, Hulu offers a "Hulu + Live TV" option for live broadcasts.

Does Hulu offer content outside the U.S.?

While primarily U.S.-centric, Hulu has limited international availability.

Is Netflix's content the same worldwide?

No, Netflix tailors its content library for different regions.

Does Hulu have its own original series?

Yes, Hulu produces originals like "The Handmaid's Tale."

Can I share my account with others?

Both services offer multi-screen plans but have policies on account sharing.

Do they have mobile apps?

Yes, both Netflix and Hulu have mobile apps for various devices.

Can I cancel my subscription anytime?

Yes, both platforms allow for easy cancellation without long-term contracts.

Do they offer content in 4K quality?

Yes, both platforms have content available in 4K for certain subscriptions.

Is there a price difference between them?

Pricing varies based on plans and features, with each platform offering different tiers.

How frequently does Hulu update its TV episodes?

Hulu often adds episodes a day after they air on TV.

Do they have parental controls?

Both Netflix and Hulu offer parental control features.

Which platform is better for binge-watching?

Personal preference, but Netflix's vast original content is popular for binge-watching.

Do they offer free trials?

As of the last update in 2022, both platforms have had free trials at various times, but offers may change.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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